View some of the emailed messages of condolence received by the Centre of Memory below.
From Njabulo Ndebele, Centre of Memory Acting Chairperson
I am greatly honoured that the Gerwel family asked me to speak in memory of Jakes as a friend. One morning in August, Jakes and I flew together from Cape Town to Johannesburg for a meeting of the Nelson Mandela Foundation trustees. Never could I have imagined that only three months later, I would be speaking in his memory at this heavy moment. The shock of it is still raw. I tremble at the sense of his presence becoming memory.
I remember vividly the first time we met – it was at the inaugural conference of the Institute of Black Studies, at the Wilgespruit Fellowship Centre, in July of 1976. The historic events of June 16 had occurred barely a month earlier. I had travelled from Lesotho on a Lesotho passport, wondering if I would return to Lesotho. But my fears were far less than my desire to be with other academic activists at that conference.
The tension in Soweto seemed to freeze in the July winter. Even the black smoke that rose from burning buildings in various parts of sprawling Soweto did not give the impression of coming from heat. A desolate, grim coldness hung over the place. There was something fearsome about it. But there was also something “dying to be born”. June 16 changed us utterly. A terrible beauty was born.
That is the context in which I first met Jakes, who sported an Afro hairstyle that clearly marked him out as an activist with purpose. His Afro may not have been as captivating as Angela Davis’s at the time, but it was sufficiently well contoured to remind us of her and the Soledad Brothers. I looked at his head and his hair many times after that, and saw how the assertive hairstyle of 1976 progressively turned into a pushed-back silvery grey of enormous dignity.
I have often gone back to that conference in my mind. Some memories of that time came in handy in moments of leadership difficulty in my days as one of Jakes’s deputies at UWC, and thereafter. More recently I thought about that conference as a citizen watching the South African public space. It struck me how much we, a younger generation in our late 20s and early 30s, must have frustrated elders such as Es’kia Mphahlele at that conference with our “revolutionary” rhetoric. There could have been no other truths possible besides our “revolutionary” truths.
Alternatively, the older generation, in their wisdom, may have found in us, despite their frustration, objects of some amusement: “How hilariously serious the young upstarts took themselves!” they may have thought. Nevertheless, they indulged us.
It was in such moments, when the young and the older faced each other in tension, that Jakes’s leadership at UWC edged us toward tricky moments of transition, from frustration to wisdom. Today some public leaders, often described as “the youth”, speak in brazen impertinence and insolence in the service of “revolution”. Exasperated and frustrated, you feel like pulling out an umshini wakho, only to put it back again, in a fleeting moment of sobering reflection.
Some of the most formative times in leadership were when Jakes got us to offer recalcitrant student leaders and their followers victories, which we allowed them to win at the expense of our not looking good. And so we would ride the wave of having “lost”, having bought some months of peace. This happened when a brazen exercise of authority that we could exercise, we perceived to have the capacity to worsen the situation. You can be right but make the situation worse. Correctness is not always prudent.
But far more important for Jakes was the far-sighted philosophy behind it all. Young people, and students in particular, are made to test the world and push boundaries. By extension, holders of the authority of government in a democracy must have the wisdom to know that civil society, trade unions and even the corporate world are made to test the boundaries of state authority. The task of leadership is to retain visionary authority to sometimes allow the bounds of formal authority to be pushed, for tactical concessions to be made, and to retain the wisdom and the strength, and the strategic and moral authority, to hold everything together. A vibrant democracy such as ours demands no less.
Jakes, the friend who often wore an unreadable face in public, and who presided over many a crisis, developed an inner gaze that allowed him to take the pain and win the peace. He possessed the gift of nuance and the clarity of principle. In this manner, he took us along with him.
And so the determined, youthful face of 1976 slowly gave way to one marked by an inward gaze and silences fraught with presence. It became a face etched with sensitivities, deep concerns, confidentialities, agonies, and empathies of various kinds; a face of one carrying the hopes, expectations and dignities embodied in institutions he led, and the boards and committees he was chairman of. If ever Jakes bore a cross, he carried it with forbearance, without the rituals of a public crucifixion.
The incisiveness of his mind, riding on the wave of his words, told you that the inward gaze was constantly processing the world in which he lived. It must have been in that inward gaze that Jakes mapped out how he would go about bringing change in his world. Jakes’s smile was in your understanding of the clarity of his thoughts, rather than in the parting of his lips and the showing of his teeth.
With this inward gaze, aided by a detailed memory, Jakes collected in his mind numerous juicy stories and anecdotes that always conveyed a pithy message. Countless Madiba anecdotes, in the service of some insight, never failed to be instructively funny. A glint and a chuckle signalled the beginning of such a pithy anecdote. Without a smile in between, Jakes would erupt into the gift of outright laughter. It was as if his inner gaze sometimes churned volcanoes.
The man who in 1990 came all the way from Cape Town to Lesotho, with his wife Phoebe, to recruit me is impossible to forget. The deepest personal impact of that gesture was in making a person feel wanted. And so must many have felt this way when invited by Jakes to join him and become part of a path-breaking institutional project.
He was determined that UWC would become a new kind of university in South Africa. And it did. It was his quiet yet intense determination that got him closer and closer to his goal.
We had a hurdle to jump when the government of the time refused me a work permit to return home to work, turning against me the prior advantage of a Lesotho passport, at a crucial time, in my attempt to reclaim my birthright. Despite a public petition, if UWC failed on that occasion, Wits won a few months later. Perhaps the government did not want another battle, this time with a powerful white institution. But I was not to stay long at Wits.
Jakes had a galvanising and focused vision for UWC to bring together a non-racial concentration of transformational talent of a magnitude not since achieved. On my part, having lived in Lesotho for 20 years, it was difficult for me to adjust to continuing racial dominance in an institutional setting. Far more than a matter of politics, it was about reliving a life such as I had experienced in Lesotho that affirmed one’s being without postures of proclamation, or rejection. Soon, I was where Jakes and UWC had wanted me to be. It was to be a brief but intense period of growth.
If I began with a plane ride with Jakes – and we took several together – I will end with reflections on another one. On a few occasions we talked about the famous 7am SAA flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg. More often than not, that flight would be laden with UWC activist academics on some serious mission or other. There was always a great deal to talk about, and a two-hour flight seemed like one hour.
Many years later, Jakes and I made little attempt to sit together on the same flight. We had less interest in talking at that time of the day. It had become far more important to catch some sleep. We both agreed, on a few occasions, that the two-hour sleep on the plane to Johannesburg was priceless.
And so, that is how I like to think we enjoyed our friendship. I experienced it deeply, with mutual high regard and affection, but unencumbered by regularity. Each time we met, our friendship ignited. And we enjoyed the heat of it, sometimes in silence: two thoughtful people often at a loss for words, but in communication nevertheless.
Listen to Jakes on his appointment as Vice-chancellor of UWC in 1985. “I am from a younger generation with a good dose of Marxism as critical paradigm … I come from a generation which says that politics always plays a role; academe and the university also have a real role to bring about political change … I am becoming rector at a time when the crisis of authority, the crisis of validity – some people call it the crisis of legitimacy – of the state and the government is not any longer just a theoretical construction but is written in huge letters in every house, every school and the university.”
To some, the words of 27 years ago may ring with disturbing familiarity today. If so, there is a big difference to note. Then, we wanted nothing less that to take over a country that others had made at our expense. Today, we hunger for a country that we South Africans want to make, and have to make, with our own minds and hands. If at the time we focused on the actions of others on us, today we have ourselves to face. Jakes’s inner gaze should be the source of our future laughter after many chuckles of finding one another. We run away from ourselves to the peril of our country.
On the day of Jakes’s passing, Mpho and I spent a precious afternoon with Phoebe and the Gerwel family. We thank them for letting us in. We saw so much of Jakes that day: a smile here; a nose there; lips here; a glint in the eyes over there; a gesture of the hands; a tilting of the body; silver hair there; even a familiar gait, and vast quantities of hospitality, generosity and affection.
To you, Phoebe, and the family, we are a grateful nation for one who was husband to you, a father to your children, a brother to others, an uncle to many more, and a friend and comrade to thousands more. We give you our sympathies.
May Jakes Gerwel rest in peace!
From Shaun Johnson, Chief Executive of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation
As someone who spoke to Jakes almost every day I can attest that for all his amazing involvements and contributions, with Jakes it was always family above all. He was so proud of you and he loved you all so very much.
I have already had the privilege and indulgence of writing about my deep love for Jakes Gerwel, and I am here to do a duty that goes well beyond myself and my grief.
I speak on behalf of the Mandela legacy organisations to record the incalculable contribution that Jakes made to establishing, building and nurturing the great legacy of the great Madiba, who loved and valued and trusted Jakes so well.
It is a simple fact that without Jakes Gerwel’s contribution there would be no Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory. It is also a fact that without Jakes (and, incidentally Phoebe) there would be no Mandela Rhodes Foundation, and no Mandela Rhodes Scholars. Talk about leaving a legacy – these things would be lifetime achievements for most people, but in the case of Jakes they are a couple of sparkling pieces in a much larger kaleidoscope.
As I have written, Jakes did so much, in so many incarnations, that his colleagues, his family, and his many friends could never know everything that was passing through his battered old briefcase, let alone that ever-inquisitive, interrogative, heuristic, exceptional mind.
I saw at closest hand his chairing of the Mandela organisations. My dear friend and colleague Achmat Dangor is here today, as are many of the trustees, staff and beneficiaries of these organisations. Now Achmat and I know well that while it might sound great, being Madiba’s representative on earth was not an easy thing and over the years Jakes would occasionally get tired and frustrated and say he didn’t need all this complexity and contestation in his life.
Then he would pause, sigh, and say: ‘But how could I ever tell Madiba I’m quitting, when he asked me to do this?’ That is Jakes Gerwel for you.
My wife Stefania and I were planning a birthday lunch to take place at our home – and many of you here would soon have been receiving invitations. What a grievous sense of loss we feel, but what privilege at having been counted as friends by such a man and his family.
In the last 10 years of our friendship, which began long before, Jakes was my boss. But he was also especially my literary friend. He was the first to read a draft of my first novel. He also liked the fact that this Engelsman, me, had inherited from my own linguist father a deep love of the Afrikaans language.
Whenever he thought we might be taking things, and ourselves, too seriously, he would send me an appropriate verse from the great canon of NP van Wyk Louw. I will close with this quatrain from the collection Tristia:
Ons was so aan die gaan gewend
Dat ons gemeen het: gáán is goed.
Maar elke gáng word: sterf-orent
Die end is bitter. En dis end.
Rest, rest dear Jakes: you earned it over and over in your time with us.
- Shaun Johnson, Cape Town, 1 December 2012
From His Excellency Mr Yutaka Yoshizawa, Ambassador of Japan
Click to view letter from Japanese Ambassador
Correspondence from the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, Dr Max Price
Click to view correspondence from Dr Max Price
Message of condolences from Clr Thabo Manyoni, Executive Mayor of Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality
Click to view message of condolences from Clr Thabo Manyoni
Message from Leslie Maasdorp, President: Southern Africa for the Bank of America Merrill Lynch
My heartfelt condolences to you and everyone at the Foundation. We have lost someone truly unique.
Dr. Llewellyn Macmaster and I served as SRC Presidents at UWC in 1985 and 1986 respectively and worked closely with Jakes during our time there. We wrote this tribute to Jakes yesterday and wanted to share it with you. Please feel free to use it as you remember and chronicle his legacy.
Click to view a tribute to Prof Gerwel
Message of condolence form the Thabo Mbeki Foundation
Click to view message of condolence from the Thabo Mbeki Foundation
Condolences from the Chairman of the Sasol Inzalo Foundation, Dr Yvonne Muthien
Correspondence from the Hon Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
From Archbishop Seraphim Kykkotis
Head of the Office for Internationals Relations of the Greek Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa
May God rests his soul and his spirit to be alive in the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory to carry on our ministry for the suffering children and the suffering people for a better life
From Tami Sokutu of African Bank
This is indeed shocking and sad news. Wishing the centre, prof's family and friends all that is good and will give them strength and well being during this time.
From Cyril T Sadiki, Managing Director of Sadmon Projects and Consulting
What a loss our country is experiencing. May his soul rest in peace.
From Rev Thomas-Rene Kitutu Z'ikossi from Christians for Peace in Africa
On behalf of its Patrons Dr Michael and Carol Cassidy, its Deputy Chairperson Mrs Scholastica Sylvan Kimaryo, its Trustees Dr Albertinah Luthuli and Dr Zonke Majodina, its 20000 Members and Partners around the world especially in Africa, Christians for Peace in Africa presents its condolences to the family of Professor Jakes Gerwel who leaves an outstanding legacy and wishes a successful Leadership to Professor Ndjabulo Ndebele.
From Tadashi Sabalele
May Prof's soul rest in peace, I pray to the almighty to give his family, friends and colleagues the strength and courage to soldier on during this difficult time. Prof's good legacy and principles will always be engraved in our hearts. Congratulations to Prof. Njabulo Ndebele on his appointment as acting Chair.
From Rachel Basirika
Its with great sorrow that I have learnt of the passing of Prof Gerwel. My condolesces and may the Lord keep his family and all of you strong at this trying time.
From Pat Salkinder of VP Enterprises
My deepest sympathy to the Gerwel family.
He will be sadly missed.
From Geoff Rothschild and all at the JSE
Please be kind enough to pass on to his family wishes of Deepest Sympathy and Strength as they mourn the loss of a great man who positively touched the lives of so many!
From Denise Gray-Felder, Communication for Social Change Consortium
I send my sympathies to all my friends at Nelson Mandela Foundation.
From the P Sukisa Foundation
My family, colleagues and I are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Professor Gerwel.
May the comfort of God help Professor Gerwel’s family during this difficult time.
From Sally Sampson
I am deeply sad to hear about the passing of Jakes Gerwel - a truly wonderful man whom my husband Anthony admired enornously. Please give my condolences, and those of the Sampson family, to his family.
From Geraldine J Fraser-Moleketi
Thanks for informing me. It was with deep shock and sadness that I learned of the passing of Prof Jakes Gerwel.
From Queen Mogatle
May he rest in peace in this regard, job well done at the centre.
From Pece Gorgievski, CEO of the Global Dialogue Foundation
On behalf of the Board at Global Dialogue Foundation, we express our condolences on the passing of Professor Gerwel, to his family colleagues at the Nelson Mandela Foundation. May the love shared during his life help all who knew him through the days ahead.
From Sagie Pillay, CEO of the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS)
Prof Gerwel was be sorely missed. He was true son of South Africa. To his family and friends our heart felt condolesences. We also take this opportunty to wish Prof Ndebele every sucess in his role as Chair to continue to work of the centre.
From Mary Burton
I should like to add my voice to the many tributes being expressed at this sad time of the death of Professor Jakes Gerwel.
Jakes Gerwel was a man of wisdom and integrity. He led the transformation of the University of the Western Cape to a widely respected institution of higher learning. He served South Africa well in every sphere in which he became involved. His support for President Mandela in many ways was a true service to the country. He will continue to be an inspiration and a model, even as he is greatly missed.
From International Solidarity for African Union
May His soul finds peace & eternal rest in the bosom of God.
From Phuti Ragophala
I really sympathise with the family during this time of bereavement.
People like prof Jakes Gerwel laid a very strong foundation during his life as such i wish we all use his footprints to keep ourselves focused and shaped towards serving other people.
May his soul rest in peace!
From Ela Gandhi
Please accept my deepest sympathies with the Board and the Gerwel family on the passing away of Prof Gerwel. Indeed it is a sad loss both to our country and to the N.M. Foundation. We shall all miss him and his wise counsel. I am sure that Prof. Ndebele will be an excellent chairperson for the Foundation and wish him well.
From Charné Haak, Deputy Director: Events Management, Department of Basic Education
All the best to you, the team and the Gerwel family during this difficult time.
From Lumka Funani
Let Prof. Jakes Gerwel’s soul rest in peace.
From Michael Katz
I have conveyed condolences to the family of the late Professor Gerwel on behalf of all of us at ENS.
From Oswald Mtshali
I wish to add my condolences to the family of Prof. Jakes Gerwel and the whole community at his passing. His contribution to the upliftment of the nation will be appreciated by many people of good will in all spheres of human endeavor.
From Advocate Dumisa Buhle Ntsebeza SC
We all mourn Prof Gerwel's passing.
Prof Ndebele is a very worthy appointment in an Acting capacity. I serve with him in the Desmond Tutu Peace Trust, and remember him well in the days I was also still a Trustee of the NMF.
Good wine needs no bush.
It is with great sadness to hear of the passing of Professor Gerwel – our deepest sympathies to family, friends and colleagues.
From Bobby Heaney
Please pass on my sincere condolences at the passing of a great man. My dealings with Professor Gerwel were few, but I was certainly aware of his charisma and admirable personality in his dealings with the NMF.
From Dempsey Naidoo
My sincere condolences on this loss for SA and Profs family.
Condolence letter from the National Orders Advisory Council
From John Battersby, UK Country Manager, Brand South Africa
Professor Gerwel will be deeply missed by all those who were fortunate enough to have known with him and worked with him.
I first me Professor Gerwel in 1983 when a interviewed him for a series on community leaders in the Western Cape for the Cape Argus.
I have interacted with him since in various capacities as Vice-Chancellor of UWC, Director-General of President Mandela’s office and as chair of the Nelson Mandela foundation.
I will miss him and remember him fondly and my heartfelt condolences go to his wife, Phoebe, and family.
From Kimberley Porteus, Executive Director of the Nelson Mandela Institute
On behalf of the Nelson Mandela Institute, we would like to extend our condolences to you and the many other friends, family and colleagues of Prof Gerwel who will be grieving our loss on this day. We were among the many who experienced his honour, dignity and commitment to a democratic South Africa. He was a great supporter of the NMI, and helped to see the organisation find its early feet. As such, his energies have left their imprint on us here. And we know that his energies have left their imprint in far wider spaces across South Africa and the globe.
Know that we think of you and his family and loved ones during this difficult time.
From Dr Mvuyo Tom, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Fort Hare
A huge loss for the country and a sad moment for us all. A giant of an intellectual has fallen. We shall remember him for his contribution both in the academia and in governance.
May his soul rest in peace.
From Nokukhanya Kubheka, PA to the Director-General and Secretary of Cabinet, The Presidency
Our condolences as the country
From Petunia Mpoza, MRF scholar
Our condolences are in order
From Don MacRobert, ENS
On behalf of us all here at ENS we write to express our condolences at the sad passing away of Professor Gerwel who for many years was your Chairman. He of course, made a great mark in South Africa in many fields, including the NGO / development work. This comes with our sincere condolences to you, your trustees and staff.
From Marcel Golding
Click to read letter from Marcel Golding
Condolence message from Ambassador Keitumetse Matthews
Click to read condolence message from Ambassador Keitumetse Matthews
Condolence message Jeanette Hendricks
My deepest sympathy to the Gerwel’s family for their big lost and may the Almighty God keep them strong in their time of bereavement.
God bless you
Message of condolence from Dr Max Price
Click to read letter from Dr Max Price
God bless you
Messages of condolence from Mandela Rhodes Scholars of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation
Many sterling tributes and obituaries have already been written, drawn, spoken, and reminisced for the late Professor Jakes Gerwel.
In addition to his many other roles he served as chairperson of the board of trustees of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation (MRF), which annually selects the Mandela Rhodes Scholars. Some of these scholars reflect on their interactions with Jakes and pay tribute to him.
Athambile Masola, a teacher in Cape Town, remembers her first encounter with Prof Gerwel during graduation at Rhodes University:
He sat in his designated throne overlooking the auditorium with a dead-pan face. As an undergrad student who was still trying to figure out the university system I concluded that part of the chancellor’s job description was to sit in the marvellous chair at graduation with no expression thus my friends and I soon dubbed him as ‘the old man that doesn’t smile’. Little did I know that years later I would be confronted by Prof Gerwel as the head of the scholarship interview panel in 2009.
When I walked into the interview I was shocked when ‘the old man that doesn’t smile’ would greet me and reassure me that the interview was simply to get to know me better. I was dumbstruck: how could the man who sits on the throne at Rhodes University’s graduation ceremony want to know me better? I survived the interview because I noticed a glint of a smile in his eyes in his attempts of listening to my nervous ramblings in an interview that went on longer than it should have.
When I met him again, he was speaking to the new 2010 cohort of scholars at our first workshop. In his explanation of why the scholarship is important he encouraged us ‘to be good’. That as young leaders in a new South Africa where political leaders are morally bankrupt, being good and ethical citizens and young leaders matters now more than ever.
Whenever I grapple with the idea of non-racialism I am always reminded of a conversation with Prof Gerwel where he was dumbfounded at the backlash of apartheid racism some young people still embody even though we are the privileged generation where race ought not to matter. While having lunch — yes ‘the old man that doesn’t smile’ does eat and drink and even cracks a joke — he posed a simple question that will remain etched in mind: ‘When you wake up in the morning, do you think of yourself as black? I tend to think of myself as a writer, a thinker, a husband, a father but race is not forefront in my mind.’ As a teacher who has been battling to talk about the dangers of racial prejudice or ‘labelling people’ to my students (with little understanding of apartheid even from their history books) I often quote this conversation with Prof Gerwel as an example of what non-racialism could mean, because I no longer wake up in the morning thinking I’m black. I wake up as a thinker, a lover and a teacher.
The few encounters with ‘the old man that doesn’t smile’ means I have a better understanding of the world around me. His commitment to education allowed me to pursue many opportunities including being a teacher and educating others about democracy, citizenship, the love for reading and literature.
Anton Botha, currently working at the United Nations, reflects on the privilege of having known the “Prof”:
Besides having come to know Prof through the Mandela Rhodes Foundation I was fortunate enough to see him speak after receiving an honorary doctorate from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. It was on this occasion that I was lucky enough to see a man who was famous for never smiling. Having grown up in Port Elizabeth he shared joyful tales of sneaking a smoke while the prefects weren’t looking and of stolen kisses with his first girlfriend in the moonlight of the bay. All the while grinning from ear to ear as he spoke of years gone by. You will be missed Prof Gerwel. Our country is a poorer place without your wisdom to guide us. I hope we can live up to a fraction of the legacy you now leave for us to follow. May you rest in peace.
Nande Mabona, a Master of Science student writing from a Geoscience conference in Germany:
I will forever be grateful to him because he saw something in me. He seemed very scary at first but was the kindest old man. I am where I am today because he believed in me.
Bronwyn Tarr, 2008 Mandela Rhodes Scholar:
It is with great sadness that I heard the recent news. I would just like to extend my condolences to Prof's family, and the Mandela Rhodes Foundation (MRF) staff, friends and community. I remember Prof so fondly from our first meeting at the MRF interviews, through to subsequent meetings in Cape Town and then here in Oxford when he was visiting. His work and vision remains so very appreciated, and lives on in my memory. I am grateful to have had the privilege of meeting him and serving on the scholarship during his time.
Anthea Paelo, 2011 Mandela Rhodes Scholar:
When I first met Prof Jakes, my first thought was that here is a very wise man and that I was meeting a legend. It was later, on hearing him speak that I realized yes, my original thoughts were true but it was more than that. He was real, not just someone to put on a pedestal.
He'd grown up from a seemingly impossible background and somehow made it through. Yet hearing of his death was a shock. Not him, it would seem that death shouldn't have dared. The reality brings with it a great deal of sadness but still a small degree of joy. I met him, we met him and for that reason, who he was; his wisdom, his kindness, his strength will live on with us. I know, I will speak of him and who he was. My heart and prayers are with the family and everyone who had the privilege of meeting him. Rest in Peace Prof.
Emile Engel, 2010 Mandela Rhodes Scholar:
May we remember Prof Gerwel forever for his political leadership and for his role as a mentor to so many. He is an example to hold dear - gentle yet firm, intellectually brilliant, compassionate, plat oppie aarde, cracking jokes with a deadpan expression.
Zama Ngcobo, 2011 Mandela Rhodes Scholar:
I thought I'd share one of my memories of a humble hero who lived amongst us. Almost 3 years ago, I sat at the end of a long table in one of the most nerve wrecking interviews – it was to change the course of my life. This man whom I thought looked like a fierce lion with his grey-gold mane, was the most intimidating man in the room (this is what I thought)...Until he through a curveball at me and asked me to share my thoughts on Isidingo...hahahaha! It later turned out that he was quite a fan. Thank you for everything Prof Jakes Gerwel. You were loved and will be missed by all the lives you touched.
Janet Jobson, 2006 Mandela Rhodes Scholar:
Seven years ago I sat, nervously, at the end of a long table being questioned by a man with a twinkle in his eyes. Somehow my life journey led to many encounters with the gentle and mischievous, wise and powerful, extraordinary man. Thank you Prof Jakes for everything you have done: for SA, for the Community of Mandela Rhodes Scholars, and - as a gentle giant appearing from time to time in my own life. Go well, and rest well, beautiful soul.
Unnel-Teddy Ngoumandjoka, 2009 Mandela Rhodes Scholar:
R.I.P Prof Gerwel...It's been a privilege sharing the vision of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation under your leadership and entrusting us with the responsibility to carry it to the rest of Mother Africa...You won't be disappointed and I'll always be grateful for this once in a lifetime opportunity you provided me with...
Andy Carolin, Chairperson of the Community of Mandela Rhodes Scholars (CMRS) organisation:
He will be remembered for, among other things, his sharp wit, his commitment to a moral and just society, his ethical leadership and his unwavering commitment to education and passionate intellectualism. Through his involvement on various MRF selection committees, workshops, and the CMRS Conference in Pretoria in 2010, many scholars have developed a deep respect for Prof Gerwel and he will be sorely missed by many.
Hamba kahle Prof!
- Message from Njabulo Ndebele, Centre of Memory Acting Chairperson
- Letter of condolence from Japanese Ambassador
- Letter of condolence from Vice-Chancellor of UCT
- Message of condolences from Clr Thabo Manyoni
- A tribute to Prof Gerwel from Leslie Maasdorp and Dr. Llewellyn Macmaster
- Message of condolence from the Thabo Mbeki Foundation
- Condolences message from Chairman of the Sasol Inzalo Foundation
- Correspondence from the Hon Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
- Condolence letter from the National Orders Advisory Council
- Letter from Marcel Golding
- Condolence message from Ambassador Keitumetse Matthews
- Letter of condolence from Dr Max Price